Sophomores step up to organize ‘Holiday Hustle’

Kalyn Hayslett, Editor-in-Chief

Four sophomore students sharing the same passion for giving back to the community organized the fifth annual Holiday Hustle 5K run/walk.

Sophomores Samantha Boomgarden, Audrey Rex, Brianne Ed and Katie Ervin met as incoming freshmen through the Presidential Scholars Scholarship program, which involves a mandatory class they took last fall.

During the class, students have to complete a service project, which is how the Holiday Hustle started, as it benefits One Stop Community Christmas in Mattoon.

One Stop Community Christmas helps seven counties gather and disburse supplies for families in need during the holiday season.

“What they do is take donations like toys, presents, socks, underwear and food even. And what the parents do is, they will come through and, based on how many kids they are shopping for, they essentially get to shop and pick out the presents that have been donated,” Ervin said.

The goal for this year is to raise $3,500 to donate to the service organization.

Last year, the group of students who originated the race graduated, so the sophomores took over this year.

“We’re kind of like the next generational of Presidential Scholars that’s taking it over,” Ervin said.

The original students who began the race passed a baton in the form of a flash drive to the new 5K organizers, with a guideline of tasks that need to be completed by specific deadlines.

Even though the new group has already finished the class and the volunteer project is no longer required for them, the sophomores wanted to continue raising funds for One Stop Community Christmas.

“The service aspect of the race is what drew me to participate,” Ed said.

Ervin was born and raised in Mattoon and said she wants to do all she can for her hometown.

“This is my home 24/7, this is where I live, and this is where I’ve grown up besides where I go to school,” she said. “Helping my home community is really awesome and also to carry on the Presidential Scholar legacy.”

Check-in for the race will begin at 8 a.m., and the race will officially start at 9 a.m. in the front of Old Main.

The race is open to the public.

The cost of registration is $25 per person and $23 per person for members in a group of six.

People can go to the EIU Holiday Hustle website to register before the race or wait to register the day of the race.

Only people who have pre-registered will be guaranteed a T-shirt that will be given during check-in.

The T-shirt has a Christmas tree–themed design on it, with an image of a road with runners placed throughout like ornaments winding into a tree form.

Participants are encouraged to dress festively and embody the holiday theme.

The sponsors of the race will be displayed on the back of the T-shirt.

However, getting sponsors was one of the major challenges when planning the race.

“This is somewhat of a transition year in leadership, so we hope that next year it will run more smoothly and we can focus more on getting sponsorships,” Ed said.

Another challenge for the organizers was finding a way to advertise for the race where multiple audiences would know about it.

“One thing we have going for us is that it is an established event, so people are aware of it because it has been in the community for a couple of years now,” Ervin said. “It’s not like we are advertising from the ground up; we had a little momentum going into it.”

The current group of Presidential Scholars, as well as a few track and field members, will volunteer the day of the race.

Once they complete the race, participants will receive snacks, hot cocoa and water.

“We hope the participants have that sense of pride that they’re helping their community,” Ervin said.

The organizers hope the weather will not discourage participants to give their money and time.

“I think it is really great seeing students and community members coming together for a common cause and just being united in that cause,” Ed said. “Running a race in December does not sound like an appealing idea, but just that we have so many people willing to do it shows how many people recognize how great the cause is.”


Kalyn Hayslett can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].